Scotland’s prosecutors to be retrained in attempt to address dire rape conviction rate

Only 27 out of 922 rape cases reported to the Scottish police in 2006-7 ended in conviction, according to the latest data reported in the Scotsman and the Sunday Mail.

And if that seems bad, consider that only 65 cases were actually prosecuted. This gives Scotland a rape conviction rate of 2.9%, even worse than England’s, which hovers at around a shocking 5-6%.

And the postcode lottery effect can be seen north of the border, too:

They also show huge regional variations in the proportion of cases that end up in court, from 19 per cent in Dumfries and Galloway to 1.7 per cent in Tayside.

The only bright spot is that some efforts are underway to address the problem – notably, no fiscals (prosecution lawyers) will be allowed to try rape cases until they have been retrained.

The two-day course will offer refresher training on rape law and teach lawyers how to support victims.

It will include discussions with forensic examiners, senior police officers, victim support workers and High Court prosecutors.

Lord Advocate Eilish Angiolini said: “This training is a vital part of ensuring there is a professional, determined approach to gathering evidence and bringing prosecutions before the court.”

When the terrible rape-conviction rate is raised in discussions here in the UK, there’s often quite a bit of flapping about how rape cases are impossible to prosecute in many cases – so this little bit of info from the Mail’s story is really worth taking note of:

The move follows calls from Scotland’s chief police officers and victim support groups for the introduction of specialist rape prosecutors. The United States has used specialists since the 1980s with some states achieving conviction rates of more than 80 per cent.


Yes, the legal system is different. However, this is surely evidence that it’s possible to design a system which actually puts more than a vanishing fraction of rapists in jail.

(Via womensgrid)

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